If you liked Uncle Tupelo, you’ll love the Bottle Rockets: singer Brian Henneman was the former’s roadie and fill-in guitarist, and the groups share a producer and even stomping grounds on the outskirts of Saint Louis. Most important, the Bottle Rockets come across the way Uncle Tupelo does: as a bunch of punks with a clear-eyed love for the tense emotions and decrepit forms of country and western–with the songwriting and performance chops to back these feelings up. Like any young band, the Bottle Rockets can be a bit labored (“The Very Last Time”) and grind out anonymous rockers (“Trailer Mama”). But two songs stand out from their debut record. One is “Wave That Flag,” a Neil Young-quality raging rocker that takes on a touchy issue with midwestern trenchancy: addressing the owner of a passing truck flying a Confederate flag, the singer growls, “If somebody owned your ass / How would you feel?” “Kerosene,” by contrast, is a classic country meditation on the metaphysics of suffering. Check ’em out; the Handsome Family and Thresholes open. Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.